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World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is an annual awareness campaign organised by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) - a global network of individuals and organisations dedicated to the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding worldwide.
The slogan for this year’s campaign is ‘Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding’. According to the WABA, the focus behind the slogan is to support not just mothers, but partners and family members to help them realise their breastfeeding goals.
The WABA says that “breastfeeding is in the mother’s domain and when fathers, partners, families, workplaces, and communities support her, breastfeeding improves.”
An analysis of global breastfeeding prevalence found that in the UK only 34% of babies are receiving some breast milk at 6 months, compared with 49% in the USA and 71% in Norway.
Making the decision to breastfeed a child is a very personal one. It’s also one that is likely to attract strong opinions from friends and family members. However, it’s recommended by medical professionals that newborn babies should be exclusively breastfed for six months, and then alongside family foods afterwards (e.g. fruit, vegetables, grain, protein) until the parent decides otherwise.
In this guidance, we have listed a selection of key benefits to breastfeeding infants, they include:
Breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for infants. It has a nearly perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and fat - everything a baby needs to grow. Breast milk also contains antibodies that help infants fight off a variety of health concerns, such as:
- Diarrhoea and vomiting
- Childhood leukaemia
- Cardiovascular disease in adulthood
As well as providing a number of health benefits for a baby, breastfeeding can help mothers lower their risk of developing:
- Breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Osteoporosis (weak bones)
Due to the physical closeness, skin-to-skin touching, and eye contact, the act of breastfeeding also helps build a strong emotional bond between the mother and her baby.
Along with having many health benefits, breastfeeding can also provide financial rewards for young families by avoiding the regular expense of purchasing formula milk. Breastfeeding infants can also be financially beneficial in the long-term, as the likelihood of future medical expenses reduces due to their improved health.
As well as positively affecting personal finances, breastfeeding also contributes to significant savings for the NHS, due to fewer hospital admissions and GP consultations.
The health of our planet is affected by the way babies are fed. Breast milk is a natural, renewable food that is produced and delivered without pollution, packaging or waste. The breast milk substitute industry, on the other hand, carries a negative environmental impact that is not commonly recognised.
If you would like more information on the topics mentioned in this article, or if you have any other wellbeing concerns, please call our free, 24-hour helpline on:
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